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Lonad Caves

Lonad Caves in Maharashtra, view of entrance portal
Lonad Caves, view of entrance portal / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

WorldBlue  In short

Near Janwal village there is located a group of several rock-cut Buddhist temples, made around the 5th century AD – Lonad Caves.

4.3 out of 10 stars 43.3%

GPS coordinates
19.3137 N 73.1365 E
Location, address
Asia, India, Maharashtra, Thana district, 8 km north-east from Bhiwandi, near Janwal village
Buddhist shrines, Rock cut temples and monasteries
Alternate names
Kalyan Caves, Shiv Kandeshvari
Age
The 5th century AD?
Religion
Buddhism, Hindu

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail

Chaitya

Most interesting structure is chaitya – it has obtained certain fame thanks to the beautiful, interesting stone carvings.

Lonad Caves, sculptures depict scenes from the history of Buddhism
Lonad Caves, sculptures depict scenes from the history of Buddhism / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Chaitya faces to the south-west and there opens a fine view from it. In front of it, there is located rock-cut water cistern.

Temple consists of the double verandah, hall, and unfinished shrine. The outer verandah is partly ruined due to landslides. The entrance is adorned by a row of three square pillars and two pilasters.

In the architrave of the cave there is a narrative scene of the Vessantara Jataka (a story about one of the past lives of Buddha) together with panels of Hariti (family goddess) and Panchika (god of affluence).

Lonad Caves, sculpted architrave above the entrance portal
Lonad Caves, sculpted architrave above the entrance portal / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Central doorway leading into the interior hall is flanked by caryatid Yaksha images.

Large panel on the right side of the cave, outside the verandah, appears to be a magnification of the scene on the architrave, where Vessantara’s father is depicted seated on a high seat amidst courtiers and attendants – he is taking the fateful decision to banish the princess Vessantara.

Lately the ancient Buddhist shrine of Lonad has been turned into a Hindu shrine. It contains later images of Khandeshvari and Mahishasura Mardini.

Unfortunately the beautiful artwork is disfigured by graffiti.

References
  1. Indian Archaeology, 1981 – 82 – a review, New Delhi, 1982.
  2. Thana District Gazetteer, Places of Interest, Maharashtra State. Accessed on June 15, 2010.

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